A couple with two children appealed after losing a lawsuit against Guangdong authorities, who fined them nearly 200,000 yuan (about HK$253,000) for breaking China’s one-child only policy. They claimed they did not break the mainland rule because their first child was born in Hong Kong. The couple’s appeal hearing ended yesterday and the judgment will be announced later, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported. The mother of the two children, a Zhuhai resident surnamed Lan, gave birth to the first of her babies in Hong Kong in May 2008. In February, she gave birth to the second child in Zhuhai. The district health and family planning bureau recorded the birth in July and fined Lan a “social support fee” of almost 200,000 yuan in March this year, the newspaper reported. The “social support fee” is a fine that mainland parents must pay for having a second child, in violation of the one-child policy. The level of the fine varies, depending on the income of the parents. The mainland introduced the one-child policy in 1979 after the population jumped more than 70 per cent in the three decades after the Communist Party came to power, even as the economy stagnated. However, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress approved rules in November last year, which allows couples to ask for permission to have a second child in cases where one parent is an only offspring. This loosened the policy that allowed a second baby only if both parents were only children. Rules set out by the State Family Planning Commission state that when it is uncertain whether a child born outside the mainland – in violation of the one-child policy – will return to live in mainland China in future, the authorities will not make the parents pay the social support fee It means that many mainland couples who have a second child in Hong Kong are exempt from paying the fee. Lan said her first child had been registered as a Hong Kong resident and had not returned to live on the mainland. She should be exempted from paying the fine for her second child because her situation was “essentially the same” as the conditions set out in the Commission’s rules, she said; the only difference was in the order in which her children had been born. Lan insisted that her first child should not be counted as a child born under the one-child policy, and therefore her giving birth to the second child did not violate the policy. During the first hearing, the district family planning commission had argued that Lan and her husband should be subject to the provincial regulations. It said because the couple’s home, or “hukou”, was registered as being in Guangdong, it mean they and children they had should come under the province’s population and family planning regulations. During yesterday’s appeal hearing, the commission stressed again that the Guangdong’s rules also covered couples with a Guangdong hukou, but who lived outside the province. “According to the expression of words, ‘outside the province’ includes ‘overseas’, so therefore their second child born on the mainland should also be subject to the rules,” it was quoted as saying by the Southern Metropolis Daily.